Report by Sarah Hickey.
Chances are the information you came here for is the Nimdzi 100 Ranking, which is presented in the table below. The ranking is based on revenue and lists the top 100 largest language service providers worldwide.
|wdt_ID||Rank||Company||Country||2022 Revenue (USD million)||Note||Main business|
|1||1||TransPerfect||United States||1,161.3||v||translation, life sciences, legal|
|2||2||RWS||United Kingdom||923.8||FY||translation, patents, life sciences, IT|
|3||3||LanguageLine Solutions||United States||836.0||v||interpreting, translation & localization, healthcare, government|
|4||4||Sorenson Communications||United States||825.0||e||sign language interpreting|
|5||5||Keywords Studios||Ireland||709.8||v||video game services|
|6||6||Lionbridge||United States||575.0||v||translation, life sciences, technology, legal, games & entertainment|
|7||7||Iyuno||United States||501.0||v||media localization|
|9||9||translate plus||United Kingdom||355.3||v||translation, dubbing, manufacturing, marketing|
|10||10||Acolad Group||France||333.3||v||translation & localization, manufacturing, life sciences, government|
|11||11||Welocalize||United States||292.0||v||translation & localization, data & AI, technology, legal, life sciences|
|12||12||Hogarth Worldwide||United Kingdom||281.0||v||communications company, localization|
|13||13||Poletowin Pitcrew Holdings||Japan||260.5||FY||translation, video game services|
|14||14||Centific||United States||237.0||v||localization, data curation, global experiences|
|15||15||AMN Language Services||United States||216.0||FY||interpreting, healthcare|
|16||16||GienTech||China||208.3||v||translation & localization, language testing & QA, technology, IT & software|
|17||17||Pixelogic Media||United States||200.0||v||media localization|
|18||18||STAR Group||Switzerland||193.7||v||translation & localization, platform licensing, automotive & aviation, manufacturing|
|19||19||CyraCom International||United States||177.4||v||interpreting, translation, healthcare, insurance, government|
|20||20||President Translation Service Group International (PTSGI)||Taiwan||157.6||v||translation & localization, interpreting, healthcare, video games, financial & legal, life sciences|
|21||21||Translation Bureau||Canada||151.5||v||translation & localization, interpreting, government|
|22||22||Dubbing Brothers||France||151.4||v||dubbing & audio, subtitling, media & entertainment|
|23||23||Questel||United States||129.0||e||translation, legal, patents, life sciences|
|24||24||VSI||United Kingdom||113.4||v||media localization|
|25||25||Visual Data Media Services||United States||110.0||v||media localization|
|26||26||GTCOM (Global Tone Communication Technology)||China||104.3||v||language technology, translation, data & AI|
|27||27||Propio Language Services||United States||96.3||v||healthcare, government|
|28||28||ZOO Digital Group||United Kingdom||95.0||v||subtitling, dubbing, media & entertainment|
|29||29||STAR7||Italy||87.3||e||translation & localization services, manufacturing, IT|
|30||30||United Language Group||United States||86.0||v||translation, interpreting, healthcare, life sciences|
|31||31||thebigword||United Kingdom||84.4||e||interpreting, translation, government|
|32||32||Honyaku Center||Japan||78.6||v||translation, patents, life sciences, finance & legal|
|33||33||BIG Language Solutions||United States||77.7||e||translation, interpreting, education, legal, healthcare, life sciences, financial|
|34||34||CQ fluency||United States||75.2||v||translation & localization, healthcare, life sciences|
|35||35||Argos Multilingual||United States||71.5||v||translation & localization, life sciences, technology & IT|
|36||36||TAKARA & COMPANY||Japan||70.0||v||transcreation, translation, technology & IT, creative services|
|38||38||SeproTec Multilingual Solutions||Spain||68.0||v||translation, interpreting, pharma, life sciences, IP|
|39||39||LanguageWire||Denmark||67.4||v||translation, life sciences, luxury, automotive|
|40||40||SWISS TXT||Switzerland||67.0||v||media localization|
|41||41||Uphealth-Martti||United States||62.4||e||interpreting, healthcare|
|42||42||Sunyu Transphere||China||61.4||v||translation & localization, intellectual property, technology & IT|
|43||43||Multicultural NSW||Australia||59.8||FY||translation, interpreting, government|
|44||44||Akorbi||United States||58.2||v||interpreting, translation & localization, healthcare, financial|
|45||45||Certified Languages International||United States||55.3||v||interpreting, healthcare, other LSPs|
|46||46||Translated||Italy||55.0||v||translation & localization, tourism, technology|
|47||47||Verztec||Singapore||54.4||v||interpreting, transcription, DTP & graphic design, education, financial & legal|
|48||48||Logos Group||Italy||54.0||v||translation & localization, copywriting & transcreation, dubbing & audio|
|49||49||Global Talk||Netherlands||52.3||v||interpreting, government, healthcare|
|50||50||KERN Global Language Services||Germany||50.6||v||translation, interpreting, life sciences, automotive, technology, financial|
|51||51||EC Innovations||Singapore||49.6||v||translation & localization, interpreting, life sciences, technology & IT|
|52||52||MotionPoint||United States||48.0||e||website translation|
|53||53||Språkservice Sverige||Sweden||44.9||v||interpreting, translation & localization, government, technology & IT|
|54||54||MasterWord Services||United States||42.8||v||linguist staffing, interpreting, translation & localization, government, healthcare|
|56||56||Ai-Media||Australia||41.5||FY||translation & localization services, government, education|
|57||57||CSOFT International||United States||39.9||e||translation & localization, interpreting, technology & IT, life sciences|
|58||58||Yamagata||Japan||38.4||v||documentation company, technical translation|
|59||59||Straker Translations||New Zealand||38.3||e||technology & IT, manufacturing, translation & localization|
|60||60||ONCALL Language Services||Australia||38.2||e||interpreting, healthcare|
|61||61||GLOBO Language Solutions||United States||36.2||v||interpreting, healthcare, government, education|
|62||62||Alpha CRC||United Kingdom||35.4||v||technology & IT, video games, translation & localization|
|63||63||EVA||France||35.2||v||dubbing, media localization|
|64||64||PGLS||United States||35.2||v||translation & localization, government|
|66||66||TIS National (Translating and Interpreting Service)||Australia||33.3||FY||interpreting, translation, public sector|
|67||67||Summa Linguae Technologies||Poland||33.2||v||data & AI, translation & localization, technology & IT|
|68||68||Traductions Serge Bélair (TRSB)||Canada||32.5||e||translation & localization, financial & legal, life sciences|
|69||69||Rozetta Corp.||Japan||31.6||v||translation, platform, technology|
|70||70||CRESTEC — Localization||Japan||31.6||v||translation, localization, manufacturing, automotive, IT & software|
|71||71||Akagane||Japan||31.5||v||translation & localization, DTP & graphic design, manufacturing|
|72||72||Toppan Digital Language||United Kingdom||31.4||v||translation & localization, healthcare, marketing, finance|
|73||73||Spark||United Kingdom||31.4||e||localization, technology, media|
|74||74||Apostroph Group||Germany||30.6||v||translation & localization, marketing, life sciences|
|75||75||Sichuan Lan-bridge Information Technology Co.||China||30.5||v||translation & localization, manufacturing, technology & IT, automotive|
|76||76||DigitalTolk||Sweden||29.9||v||interpreting, public sector|
|77||77||Versacom||Canada||29.3||v||translation & localization, financial & legal|
|78||78||Janus Worldwide||Austria||29.2||v||translation & localization, technology & IT, manufacturing|
|79||79||Acclaro||United States||28.4||v||translation & localization, copywriting & content creation, technology & IT, media & entertainment|
|80||80||DA Languages||United Kingdom||25.3||v||interpreting, translation, education, financial|
|81||81||Skrivanek||Czech Republic||25.0||v||translation & localization, manufacturing, other LSPs|
|82||82||BLEND||Israel||25.0||v||translation & localization, education, IT, video games|
|83||83||Transline Gruppe||Germany||24.9||v||translation & localization, DTP & graphic design, manufacturing, life sciences|
|84||84||t'works||Germany||23.2||v||translation, website localization, manufacturing, life sciences, legal|
|85||85||Transvoice||Sweden||23.2||v||interpreting, healthcare, government|
|86||86||Glodom Language Solutions||China||23.2||v||translation, IT, patents|
|87||87||Systran||France||21.0||e||machine translation solutions, IT, defense, e-commerce, public sector|
|88||88||Supertext||Switzerland||19.4||v||translation, transcreation, marketing|
|90||90||CBG Konsult & Information||Sweden||18.3||v||translation & localization, automotive & aviation, government|
|91||91||Hanna Interpreting Services||United States||17.0||v||interpreting, translation, healthcare, education, public sector|
|92||92||THG Fluently||United Kingdom||16.3||v||translation & localization, copywriting & content creation, consumer goods, beauty & wellness|
|93||93||Lingsoft Group||Finland||16.0||v||translation & localization, government, other LSPs|
|94||94||Linguava||United States||16.0||v||interpreting, translation & localization, healthcare|
|95||95||e2f||United States||15.5||e||data & AI, translation, linguist staffing, technology|
|96||96||mt-g||Germany||15.1||v||translation & localization, DTP & graphic design, life sciences|
|97||97||itl Institut für technische Literatur||Germany||14.9||v||translation & localization, automotive & aviation, technology & IT|
|98||98||Awatera||Cyprus||14.4||v||translation & localization, interpreting, life sciences, technology & IT, gaming|
|99||99||Hansem Global||South Korea||14.0||v||technical writing, translation, consumer goods|
|100||100||kothes GmbH||Germany||14.0||v||translation & localization services, technology, DTP & graphic design|
The following companies would have made the ranking in previous editions, but due to the growth of other players as well as new arrivals on the Nimdzi 100, they did not make the cut this year. However, they deserve an honorary mention.
|wdt_ID||Company||Country||2022 Revenue (USD million)||Note||Main business|
|1||24translate Group||Germany||13.8||v||translation & localization, DTP & graphic design, financial & legal|
|2||Interpreters Unlimited Group||United States||13.5||v||interpreting, legal, education, gaming|
|3||Human Science||Japan||13.3||v||translation & localization, data & AI, technology & IT, marketing|
|4||German Translation Network - Ge|Tra|Net|||Germany||13.2||v||translation & localization, interpreting, manufacturing, financial & legal|
|5||EVS Translations||Germany||13.1||v||translation, finance, legal|
|6||Presence Translate & Interact||Luxembourg||13.1||v||interpreting, healthcare, government|
|7||Global Lingo||United Kingdom||12.0||v||translation, interpreting, transcription, technology & IT, e-learning|
|8||Ingenuiti||United States||11.7||v||translation, DTP & graphic design, life sciences|
|9||Mondia Technologies Ltd||United Kingdom||11.3||v||manufacturing & engineering, professional services, multimedia & e-learning|
|10||Expression Australia||Australia||11.2||FY||sign language interpreting|
|11||Powerling||France||11.0||v||translation, life sciences, consumer goods|
|12||Transcom Global||United Kingdom||10.8||v||translation, life sciences|
|13||Kaleidoscope||Austria||10.5||v||translation & localization, transcreation, manufacturing|
|14||Terra Translations||United States||10.4||v||translation, language testing & QA, video games, education & e-learning|
|15||Translation Back Office||Argentina||10.0||v||translation, localization, work for other LSPs|
|16||Linguitronics Co., Ltd.||Taiwan||10.0||v||translation and localization services, Life sciences|
The Watchlist consists of companies that should be in the ranking but are not listed because they do not disclose, publish, or otherwise reveal their revenue. Furthermore, some organizations are units inside larger corporate groups where a small part of revenue comes from language services, and annual reports do not allow researchers to segment out the translation and interpreting revenue. We provide visibility to such companies on the Watchlist to highlight their impact on the industry.
The reason it is important for us to track these companies is because even though they might not compete for clients, they compete for talent and resources. They also represent opportunities for technology providers and investors.
The companies are listed in alphabetical order.
|1||Ability InterBusiness Solutions (AIBS)||Japan||translation, technical writing|
|2||Advanced Language Systems International||United States||translation, localization, government|
|3||Alibaba Language Services||China||IT company, translation platform|
|4||AllWorld Language Consultants (ALC)||United States||translation, interpreting, government|
|5||American Language Services (AML-Global)||United States||translation, interpreting, legal, technical, media|
|6||Angel Translation Corporation||China||translation, localization, interpreting|
|7||Blu Digital Group||United States||media localization|
|8||CALNET||United States||government, interpreting|
|9||Chizai Corporation||Japan||translation, patents|
|10||Conduit Language Specialists||United States||translation, interpreting, government|
|11||Congrès Global Communications||Japan||translation, interpreting, conference|
|12||Convo Communications||United States||sign language interpreting|
|13||CWU||United States||translation, interpreting, government|
|15||Deluxe||United States||media localization|
|16||Diction||Switzerland||translation & localization, marketing, financial & legal|
|17||DXC ACG||United States||IT company, translation, software localization|
|18||EnVeritas Group (EVG)||United States||communications company, content localization|
|19||Geneva Worldwide||United States||interpreting, translation, legal, healthcare|
|20||Global Linguist Solutions (GLS)||United States||translation, interpreting, government|
|21||ICON||Ireland||clinical research group, life sciences, translation|
|22||IDC Digital||United States||media localization|
|23||Iota Localization Services||Ireland||translation & localization, IT and software, education, security|
|24||KACE Company||United States||translation, interpreting, government|
|25||Language Services Associates||United States||interpreting, healthcare, insurance, financial|
|26||Leidos||United States||translation, interpreting, government|
|28||LIS Solutions (Legal Interpreting Solutions)||United States||interpreting, government|
|30||Maruboshi Co., part of CMC Corporation||Japan||translation, interpreting, technical writing|
|31||Metropolitan Interpreters and Translators (Metlang)||United States||translation, interpreting, government|
|32||Mid Atlantic Professionals (SSI)||United States||government, interpreting|
|33||Mission Essential||United States||translation, interpreting, government|
|34||Mother Tongue||United Kingdom||transcreation, translation, content creation|
|35||MultiLingual Solutions (MLS)||United States||translation, interpreting, software localization|
|36||Prime Focus Technologies||India||media localization|
|37||Qloc||Poland||localization, video game services|
|38||Raytheon||United States||government, language technology|
|39||Smartling||United States||IT company, translation, content localization|
|40||SOS International||United States||translation, localization, interpreting, government|
|41||SunFlare||Japan||translation, technical writing|
|42||Testronic||United Kingdom||video game services, localization|
|44||Tradutec Group||France||translation, life sciences, finance|
|45||Transn||China||translation, financial & legal|
|46||tsd GmbH||Germany||translation, manufacturing, financial, pharma|
|47||Unbabel||United States||translation, platform, technology|
|48||Valbin Corporation||United States||government|
|49||WCS Group||Netherlands||translation, interpreting, technical documentation|
|50||Wordbank||United Kingdom||translation, audiovisual, marketing|
|51||WordTech International||China||translation, localization|
|52||WorldWide Language Resources||United States||translation, interpreting, government|
|53||ZVRS / Purple Communications||United States||sign language interpreting|
A lot has changed on the ranking since last year. Here is a brief overview to help you better navigate the ranking.
The below companies are missing from the top 100 ranking this year although their revenues were larger than USD 10 million in 2022. This is for one simple reason: The competition was even larger and so all top 100 positions were already filled. This is why this year we will find them in our “Close, but no cigar” honorary ranking.
The below providers were moved from the ranking onto the Watchlist because they did not respond to our requests for information and the data available in public records was insufficient to make an informed estimate.
During the course of this market analysis, Nimdzi uncovered prominent LSPs that have previously been invisible in market reports because they do not participate in surveys and are reluctant to disclose their revenue. Nimdzi has employed an investigative approach and invested hundreds of hours into intense research, data collection, and analysis in order to present data that have previously been unavailable.
We are very proud to offer broad access to our data. This ranking is offered to all who are interested. No paywall. No strings attached. Localization buyers, investors, savvy job seekers, and analysts are welcome to use this document, just don’t forget to reference Nimdzi Insights, LLC, as the source. Interested parties are free to reach out to us directly should they have any questions.
Below is a summary of the methodology used for the Nimdzi 100 ranking.
The language services market is probably the biggest industry most people have never heard of. Yet, in many ways, it is a shadow industry that is driving the growth of all global brands.
It is an industry that touches all other industries, because wherever there is a need for communication, there is a need for language services. That fact alone makes the language services industry incredibly resilient and, as we like to say, impervious to crises — it is not reliant on what happens in one single sector. It is a transformation business that does not create anything from scratch but transforms content from other industries.
Another factor that makes this industry so resilient is that unlike others, that purely grow by volume, there are three vectors for growth for LSPs:
But don’t just take our word for it. Let’s take a look at the data. The below graph shows that since companies started tracking the size of the market, it has not stopped growing. There were years when growth slowed down (e.g. 2020), but even then, there was still growth.
Source: 2009-2017 CSA Research; 2018-2027 Nimdzi Insights
2022 was a particularly interesting year to analyze because the language industry was emerging from two exceptional years. In 2020, growth slowed down as the market adjusted to lockdowns and a changing environment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 followed as a boom year that saw growth in the industry skyrocket due to backlog demand from 2020 paired with new demand as LSPs were reaping the rewards of the efforts they put in at the start of the pandemic.
2022 was somewhat of a mixed bag as growth was certainly stronger than in 2020 but more moderate compared to the exceptional growth in 2021. Putting the year into context, we can say that in many ways, life has returned to normal. We have adapted to life after and with the pandemic, everyone is traveling again, conferences are being held onsite once more, all the while remote services are here to stay. On the other side of the coin, the global economy is experiencing inflation and an energy crisis, there is war in Europe, and mass layoffs are rocking the tech industry, all leading to an overall feeling of uncertainty.
Quite fittingly, during interviews for this year’s Nimdzi 100, many businesses reported a slow first half of 2022, followed by a strong second half of the year that outperformed expectations for the very same businesses.
Looking at the results from the top 100, this is what the ranking shows us about the state of the industry in 2023:
In 2022, a number of world currencies experienced significant devaluations against a strong US dollar. This had an impact on the growth of the top 100 (and the industry as a whole). To illustrate, in this year’s ranking, companies in the top 100 grew 18.7% on average when calculated in US dollars, whereas growth would be at an average of 26.5% if calculated in the reporting currencies for companies on our list.
No time to read the full report but still want to stay up to date? We’ve got you covered. Below is an executive summary of the main findings from this year’s analysis.
In 2020, we had reduced our growth estimate to reflect the impact of the pandemic, adjusting the market’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to 6.0%, down from 6.2% and 6.8% in previous years. However, after a phenomenal 2021 with record growth, our estimate for 2021 reflected a one-off increase of 10% compared to 2020. Already in last year’s Nimdzi 100, we predicted that it is unrealistic to expect this exceptional level of growth to continue, but that we can expect the industry to grow at a faster pace than before March 2020, thanks to a changed market that LSPs have adapted well to at this point in time. This is why, in March 2022, we projected a CAGR of 7.0% for the coming years. Considering the results from this year’s ranking, we can now confirm this growth projection despite economic uncertainty, particularly thanks to a strong second half of 2022. This is why we continue to predict that the market will grow at a CAGR of 7.0% in the coming years, reaching $90.8 billion by 2027.
We estimate that the language services industry reached $64.7 billion in 2022 and should grow to $69.3 billion in 2023.
When calculating the addressable market for their services, commercial providers should limit the opportunity to 60% of the total figure. Firstly, not everything is outsourced, as a significant portion of the overall volume is performed by in-house teams on the buyer side. For example, the European Union employs about 5,000 staff translators and interpreters. Secondly, the market size calculation includes revenues for both translation companies and their suppliers, i.e. a part of the revenue is counted twice.
Although consolidation continues, the language services industry remains fragmented. The top 100 companies in our ranking accounted for just 19.6% of the overall language industry in 2022 — a rise of 1.7 percentage points from 2021. Adding in the Watchlist and our “Close, but no cigar” honorary ranking, all 169 large LSPs tracked by Nimdzi accounted for only 22.7% of the language industry in 2022.
In absolute figures, the companies tracked by Nimdzi earned over $14.7 billion in their latest fiscal years. The top 10 companies were responsible for more than 45.2% of that total.
Despite ongoing consolidation at the top, the industry is still predominantly made up of companies smaller than $10 million.
Our data show that annual growth among the 100 largest LSPs has increased, though more moderately than in the previous period. Between 2021 and 2022, the combined revenues of the top 100 positions in our ranking increased by 17.1%, compared to 22.7% in the previous period.
The combined revenue of the companies comprising the top 10 positions in our 2023 ranking rose 13.7% compared to the top 10 listed in 2022. The strongest growth was experienced by the segment of companies comprising the top 50 positions, whose combined revenues increased by 17.6% as compared to those holding the top 50 positions last year. The top 20 positions grew by 15.5% and the remaining positions 51 to 100 grew by 13.1%, as compared to last year’s ranking.
In this year’s ranking, 65 of the top 100 largest LSPs in the world reported various degrees of growth and 35 companies had negative growth.
This is a big change from last year, where 86 companies from the top 100 reported positive growth, 10 had negative growth, and revenues remained flat for one company on the ranking. However, as mentioned earlier on in the report, this is largely due to currency fluctuations. In local currencies, 88 companies of this year’s top 100 reported positive growth, only 10 reported negative growth, and revenues remained flat for two companies on our list.
|wdt_ID||Top 100 Segment||2021 median growth||2022 median growth|
When calculating the growth by company size we again opted for the median instead of the average to allow for a more accurate picture.
Looking at the results, companies with 50 to 99 employees came out on top, with a median growth rate of 21.6%. In last year’s ranking, it was the same company size class that grew the most, with the very same median growth rate. Next in line are LSPs with 500 to 999 employees, who recorded a median growth rate of 11.5% in 2022 — down slightly by 1.6 percentage points from 2021.
The least growth was recorded in companies with sizes of 25 to 49 (-5.0%), 250 to 499 (2.6%), 100 to 249 (3.5%), and 1000+ employees (4.6%).
Looking at the productivity of the top 100 LSPs, the average revenue per employee in 2022 was about $229,300. In 2021, the average was $213,100, so this is an increase in productivity of about 7.3%. The average productivity for the top 20 was $273,400 in 2022. It is worth noting that three companies from the top 10 in our ranking are among the ten most productive companies this year, as compared to only one company last year. These are translate plus, Keywords Studios, and LanguageLine Solutions. In addition, one other company from the top 20 (AMN Language Services) and one from the top 30 (Propio Language Services) are among the most productive LSPs in 2022.
Considering company size, five out of the 10 most productive companies in 2021 employ between 25 and 99 professionals. Two companies in this ranking have between 100 and 249 full-time employees. The most productive company — translate plus — has between 250 and 499 people on staff. Two of the most productive companies employ 1,000+ people.
It is also worth noting that there is an overrepresentation of interpreting companies in this list. Five out of the 10 most productive companies in 2022 — DigitalTolk, AMN Language Services, Språkservice Sverige, Global Talk, and LanguageLine Solutions — all derive a large portion of their revenue from interpreting services. It is possible that the move to remote interpreting contributed to the increase in productivity for these companies.
|wdt_ID||Rank||Company||Productivity (USD per employee)||2022 Revenue (USD million)||Size class (number of employees)|
|1||1||DigitalTolk||1,197,392.0||29.9||25 to 49|
|2||2||AMN Language Services||1,125,000.0||216.0||100 to 249|
|3||3||translate plus||1,060,533.0||355.3||250 to 499|
|4||4||Språkservice Sverige||954,315.0||44.9||25 to 49|
|5||5||Multicultural NSW||757,203.0||59.8||50 to 99|
|6||6||Propio Language Services||621,290.0||96.3||100 to 249|
|8||8||Global Talk||551,010.0||52.3||50 to 99|
|10||10||Translated||436,453.0||55.0||100 to 249|
Below is a list of the ten fastest-growing LSPs in 2022. We need to highlight that the company that experienced the fastest growth — Toppan Digital Language — is only 1.5 years old at the time of publication in March 2023. In this time, the company acquired two other businesses (GlobaLexicon and TranslateMedia).
|wdt_ID||Rank||Company||Growth %||2022 Revenue (USD million)||Core business|
|1||1||Toppan Digital Language||408.0||31.4||translation & localization, healthcare, marketing, finance|
|2||2||Propio Language Services||190.1||96.3||healthcare, government|
|3||3||Multicultural NSW||113.5||59.8||translation, interpreting, government|
|4||4||CQ fluency||95.8||75.2||translation & localization, healthcare, life sciences|
|5||5||Argos Multilingual||64.0||71.5||translation & localization, life sciences, technology & IT|
|8||8||Visual Data Media Services||46.7||110.0||media localization|
|9||9||MasterWord Services||40.4||42.8||linguist staffing, interpreting, translation & localization, government, healthcare|
|10||10||DA Languages||37.1||25.3||interpreting, translation, education, financial|
Aside from including a top-10 ranking by growth, for the first time this year we are also including an overview of the growth of 10 select providers in the industry, since we started publishing the Nimdzi 100.
As the data show, when observed across the years all of these LSPs (who at one point or another were the top 10 in the world) had a growth streak. Even the ones who saw revenues decline in one year, increased revenues again in the following years and on the whole grew significantly over the six-year period. The most significant decline in revenue can be noticed for Lionbridge in 2021. However, this is only because the company sold its AI division (for approx. $935 million). For RWS, the slight decline in revenue in 2022 comes down to currency fluctuations. In its annual report, Appen is citing a “challenging market and macro conditions” as the reasons for the decline in revenue from their Global division in 2022.
This year, 19 companies in our ranking are women-run or women-owned. The number increased from 17 in 2022. Overall, this places our industry well above the global average of 10% (according to the Fortune 500 in January 2023). The majority of these women-run or owned companies are based in North America, followed closely by Europe (nine and eight, respectively), and two companies are based in Asia.
|wdt_ID||Rank||Company||Country||2022 Revenue (USD million)||Note|
|1||15||AMN Language Services||United States||216.0||FY|
|2||34||CQ fluency||United States||75.2||v|
|3||35||Argos Multilingual||United States||71.5||v|
|5||45||Certified Languages International||United States||55.3||v|
|8||54||MasterWord Services||United States||42.8||v|
|9||57||CSOFT International||United States||39.9||e|
|10||62||Alpha CRC||United Kingdom||35.4||v|
|12||68||Traductions Serge Bélair (TRSB)||Canada||32.5||e|
|13||80||DA Languages||United Kingdom||25.3||v|
|15||86||Glodom Language Solutions||China||23.2||v|
|17||91||Hanna Interpreting Services||United States||17.0||v|
|18||97||itl Institut für technische Literatur||Germany||14.9||v|
|19||99||Hansem Global||South Korea||14.0||v|
As much as we want to laud the progress in our industry and congratulate these women on their achievements, it is also important to highlight the distance we still have to go. Although 19% of companies are women-led, only 7.2% of the total revenue of Nimdzi’s top 100 is generated by these LSPs. Furthermore, there are again no female CEOs among the top 10 largest companies in the industry. The distribution is far from equal and we hope to see this gap narrow in 2023.
In this year’s survey, we asked companies to select the services and verticals they operate in.
The results show that the services most commonly provided by LSPs are translation and localization (89.3%), machine translation and post-editing (74.2%), subtitling (66.0%), and desktop publishing and graphic design (58.5%). Dubbing, voiceovers and audio services are in fifth place (57.9%) and copywriting, transcreation, and content creation as well as transcription are in equal sixth place (54.1% each). Remote interpreting (48.4%) and onsite interpreting (47.2%) and are the seventh and eighth most provided service respectively.
Considering the split by verticals, our survey results show that technology, IT & software (59.8%), life sciences (57.2%), and financial and legal (56.0%) are the three most prevalent segments in terms of industry participation. This is a change from last year, where marketing was in third place with 60.4% of survey respondents being active in this segment. This year marketing is in sixth place with 47.2% listing this industry in their portfolio.
Education & e-learning (50.9%) remains in fourth place and healthcare (47.8%) is the fifth most common industry segment. In addition, manufacturing (45.9%) and media & entertainment (43.4%) reached the seventh and eighth place respectively.
When looking at these data, it is important to bear in mind that these results represent a numerical count, showing how many players offer a certain service or operate in a certain vertical. They do not reflect the market share by revenue.
When we create the Nimdzi 100 and estimate the size and growth of the market, much like other industries, we use the US dollar as a common denominator. However, it is worth stressing that, depending on the currency, growth figures for individual companies may vary significantly when calculated in their local currency as compared to results converted to USD. This is always the case, but particularly worth highlighting this year as many world currencies weakened against a strong US dollar in 2022.
In the ranking we see this reflected when we consider the overall growth of the top 100 in USD as compared to growth in local currencies. In USD, companies in the top 100 grew 19.1% on average, whereas growth reached an average of 27.0% if calculated in the reporting currencies for companies on our list. A difference of close to eight percentage points.
This difference is particularly noticeable for companies reporting in JPY, GBP, PLN, SEK, EUR, NZD, and AUD. Amongst these, the Japanese yen and the British pound are the two most heavily affected. In 2022, the Japanese yen reached its lowest level against the US dollar in almost a quarter of a century, and the British pound has fallen to an all-time low against the USD as a response to the government’s announcement of tax cuts.
On a positive note, companies reporting in USD saw a positive impact on their growth figures in 2022.
Despite these significant currency fluctuations in 2022 that had a more significant impact on the results of the language services industry than usual, it is worth stressing that the net result for the overall market was still strong growth for the sector as a whole.
The year 2021 was a boom year for the industry, with M&A activity increasing over 60% compared to 2020. As the global economy roared back in 2021 following the COVID-19 shutdowns, M&A activity went into hyperdrive with a record of 62 completed transactions — not considering venture capital (VC) funding, initial public offering (IPO) or merger activity — that saw deal volume and valuations at an all time high.
Although the industry has been consolidating for some time, it is highly fragmented by nature. This is partly due to low barriers to entry, low capital expenditure requirements, and the nature of the language services business, which is composed of highly dynamic firms operating in a market that is experiencing competing forces of consolidation and fragmentation (which Nimdzi has defined as the Jell-O effect). Thus, the industry is refreshing itself and amenable to the buy-and-build strategy.
After a record year of deals, 2022 was slightly more restrained as macro-economic factors, geopolitical challenges, and rising uncertainty put the brakes on and saw deal volume slightly contract.
Profitability and growth continues to drive M&A, and as the industry is very amenable towards Private Equity’s (PE) playbook: the buy-and-build strategy is one of the fastest ways to grow revenue and acquire capable teams to further drive growth. In addition, advances in artificial intelligence and machine translation enable translation companies to provide services at a scale not yet seen before.
In its early days, 2023 was off to the races, with a number of deals closing in early January. Unbabel acquired EVS, one of largest players in the German market. Mobeus Private Equity completed their first transaction in the language industry as they facilitated the management buyout (MBO) of Translation People. And notably, another unicorn is born in the translation industry as DeepL received a $100 million investment, making it also the first MT firm to be valued at $1 billion, a multiple of 20 times DeepL’s run rate. VC firms have long considered MT companies to be powerful disrupters and have specifically supported them.
As earnings show resilience and grow to all-time highs, the industry is beginning to attract a greater number of private capital investors. In 2022, RWS was approached by Baring Private Equity Asia Fund VIII Limited (BPEA) with the possibility of acquiring the company. This attracted a lot of attention at the time and put the language industry on the map of the larger funding houses.
The outlook for M&A development in 2023 is largely contingent upon interest rates and business confidence. Though there is still inherent risk, investors with confidence and experience can seize opportunities by adapting their strategies to the current conditions.
Looking at this year’s survey results, the numbers confirm the narrative. In this year's survey for the Nimdzi 100, 52.4% of respondents stated that they are looking for companies to acquire, which is up by 4.8 percentage points compared to last year’s results. In addition, 34.3% are looking to sell, which is an increase of 8.8 percentage points compared to 2021 — confirming once again that there are fewer companies that want to sell against those that are looking to buy. In the same vein, the number of companies stating they are not thinking about M&A at all has decreased by 2.6 percentage points compared to the previous period.
To get a better sense of where the biggest growth came from by geographical distribution in 2022, we have compiled a map of the average growth rates of the top 100 LSPs by region, based on country headquarters.
We calculate growth based on revenues expressed in USD, using the average annual exchange rate to US dollar, published by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States for each day of trading in 2022. As already mentioned in the previous section on the effect of currency exchange rates, this means that, for some regions, currency fluctuations skew the growth picture. If we calculate the average growth of the top 100 LSPs by region in the companies’ local currencies the percentages increase across the board: 39.7% for Asia (vs 27.0% in USD), 24.3% for Europe (vs 13.1% in USD), 26.6% for Oceania (vs 17.5% in USD), and 22.6% for North America (vs 22.2% in USD; includes companies reporting in CAD).
Out of 169 medium-to-large-sized companies that we identified in 2022, 39.4% are headquartered in Europe and 37.6% in North America. Companies from Asia represent 17.6% of the geographical distribution. Oceania hosts 4.7% of the top players. This year it is the first time that South America has produced an LSP that is large enough to be included in our report (on the “Close, but no cigar” list), namely Translation Back Office from Argentina. There is only one company from the Middle East that has made it into our ranking, and for the third year in a row: BLEND (formerly One Hour Translation). Africa has not yet produced an LSP that could be included in the Nimdzi 100.
Compared to 2021, there is a slight decrease in companies headquartered in Europe (41.8% in 2021) and Asia (18.8% in 2021). This difference is made up for by a larger number of LSPs based in North America, Oceania, and one in South America (35.8%, 3.6%, and zero in 2021 respectively).
We asked survey respondents to indicate the percentage of their revenue derived from customers based in different parts of the world. The results show that in 2022, Europe was the region with the largest client base in the industry, followed by North America and Asia. While the market distribution is similar to the one we observed in 2021, the weight shifted slightly, and Europe reclaimed its top position from North America, which had the largest client base in 2021.
As the map shows, 41.0% of revenues in 2022 came from clients based in North America, down from 45.0% in 2021. This slight decrease in the North American client base seems to have shifted to Europe. In 2022, Europe accounted for 48.2% of the client base, up from 41.1% in 2021. Revenues amounting to 9.8% were derived from customers in Asia in 2022 as compared to 12.0% in 2021. Same as in 2021, South America (0.8%), Africa (0.2%), and Oceania (0.0%) are the smallest regions in terms of client base in 2022.
What the ranking doesn’t show is that many of the top providers in the industry are not in direct competition with one another. Because the market is so fragmented, there are many clusters of top players for the various sectors within the language services industry.
While companies from the top ranks are trying to diversify and branch out into other segments, no one, for example, comes near Keywords Studios when it comes to gaming, near Iyuno when it comes to media localization, or near LanguageLine Solutions in the area of interpreting.
In every segment of the market, there are a handful of LSPs that have reached the level of brand awareness that puts them in a top-of-mind position for buyers. From a buyer’s point of view, the top companies in each segment of the industry are more likely to be bundled and tend to be interrelated in the client's mind. Let’s take a look at who they are, per sector of the industry.
In a 2022 study, Nimdzi gathered responses from localization decision-makers to understand what the deciding factors are when selecting an LSP to partner with. While on-time delivery and quality management are (unsurprisingly) highly valued by localization buyers, it’s worth noting that communication, flexibility, and transparency are just as important. In fact, 56% of respondents report that they want to work with providers who can be “partners to [their] business,” supporting the qualitative data gathered in interviews that indicates localization managers want external partners that can become an extension of their internal teams.
For this year’s Nimdzi 100, we also asked the ones on the other side of the equation (the LSPs), what their buyers typically care about the most. Results demonstrate that, despite the shift in data gathering approach (interviews vs survey) and the changed perspective (LSPs vs buyers), the essential priorities remain largely unchanged. Below are the top results from this year’s Nimdzi 100 interviews with market players that show what buyers care about the most when partnering with an LSP (as reported by LSPs):
One-stop-shop: Clients want everything under one roof without having to worry about who to talk to. Many LSPs we talked to for this year’s Nimdzi 100 reported having changed their internal structure to accommodate exactly that.
In this section, we highlight a number of key trends and driving forces that stood out from our analysis and predict how these will shape the market for language services in the coming years.
For a couple of years now, we have been monitoring a trend we’ve been calling “the new LSP.” And although this is not a new trend, it certainly is a continuous one that we see expressed in many different ways but with two core characteristics:
Let’s take them one at a time.
At the core of this trend lies the desire of LSPs to not just be an external vendor but rather an extension of their clients’ operations. In their effort to achieve this, LSPs become hyper customer-centric, adding adjacent services, and embedding themselves deeply into their clients’ internal structure to a point that makes them almost irreplaceable (or at least harder to cut ties with). Let’s talk about what that looks like:
Adjacent services for an end-to-end solution
When we talk about adjacent services, we are referring to services that do not traditionally fall under the definition of language services, but are complementary to the LSP’s offerings and allow them to increase their value proposition and provide their clients with a more complete package. LSPs can take care of a client’s whole global content strategy by also offering content creation and copywriting, as well as content management. In media localization, an LSP may not only provide subtitling and dubbing but also digital packaging and cloud recording to round out their offering and provide an end-to-end solution.
Another example of LSPs strengthening the relationship is in-housing. Several LSPs report that they have entire teams who permanently work on the clients’ premises. These teams are more embedded in the client’s organizational structure than the LSP’s. In some cases, companies even built entire offices for their clients that look exactly like the client’s ones but are being operated by the LSP. This is mostly relevant for clients who release content on a daily basis and need this content to go out in 30+ languages that very same day, at the same time. Providing in-house teams might not be an entirely new concept. However, it is a great example of LSPs embedding themselves deeply into their clients’ operations.
Managed services and convenience
What most of the above is describing is also commonly known as managed services — the practice of companies fully outsourcing parts of their business to another provider. Reasons for this are usually of budgetary nature, but managed services also offer a level of convenience and reassurance when the services are essential to the company’s business but fall outside their core competency (as is usually the case with localization). This is where, in the language services industry, LSPs have started to step in and step it up.
The realization that convenience is key is also reflected in the fact that many LSPs spent much of 2022 restructuring their internal operations so that now there is only one central point of contact for the client — no matter the request, no matter the timezone. While this might make it more complex behind the scenes, it streamlines the process from the client’s perspective.
Going the extra mile
An example of LSPs being hyper accommodating to client requests (we are in a service industry after all) comes from Straker. The company built an app that allows clients to request translations and monitor their progress via Slack. It’s a solution that provides next level convenience for the client instead of forcing them to use yet another platform. It also shows that LSPs are not afraid to innovate and invest in order to customize their offering to their clients’ unique needs.
Trickling down to the mid-market
While the trend we are describing in this section is mostly true for the top 100 largest companies in the industry, interviews with LSPs of all sizes have revealed that the trend has started to trickle down to the mid-market segment. Even companies in the $5 million bracket have reported that they either have already entered into closer partnerships with their clients or that they are working on it.
“We don’t consider ourselves an LSP anymore…” is a phrase we hear a lot. As LSPs are diversifying their service offering, many are trying to come up with a name that better reflects their new reality and ultimately generates better leads.
There are many names making the rounds in industry circles. Popular ones include “Localization Success Partner” and "Localization Solutions Partner" — two terms that keep the old acronym but expand the definition of what LSPs do — as well as LangOps (short for language operations). The ones using the latter argue that time has come to retire words like localization and internationalization and that a new paradigm is needed. LangOps describes a cross-functional, tech-enabled collaborative environment, particularly relevant for enterprise clients. In reality though these concepts are not revolutionary.
Aside from these kinds of rebranding or repositioning attempts, some LSPs also continue to redefine themselves as tech companies instead — a trend that is not exclusive to the language industry but can also be found in others, such as the IT sector. Companies in this bracket have developed their own technology that now plays a crucial role in how they operate internally as well as in how clients request services. In essence, it is technology that increases efficiencies by automating much of the ordering process. This is mostly realized in the form of client portals that, for instance, automatically match clients with the right interpreter or translator or send the content to the right MT engine before it moves to the post-editing stage (with high percentages of zero-touch orders). Ultimately, very few of these LSPs license and sell their software but, instead, use technology to sell services (also known in industry circles as tech-enabled LSPs).
Why are LSPs choosing these new definitions?
In reality, the two factors listed above can be described as two sides of the same coin that go hand in hand. As companies are participating in the AI, MT, automation hype and rebrand to fit the bill, their hope is to attract more clients. In doing so, this makes the company more attractive to investment firms.
In April 2021, João Graça, the co-founder of Unbabel, published an article in Forbes magazine proposing LangOps as a new paradigm for the language industry, rightfully arguing that terms like localization and internationalization have run their course. The article has sparked debate among industry leaders. Luminaries like Britta Aagaard and Jochen Hummel have hit the road sharing the vision of the end of the siloed approach to language services in the enterprise and its inefficiencies and the dawn of a cross-functional tech-enabled collaborative environment called language operations or LangOps.
The vision makes sense from a logical and pragmatic perspective. Who wouldn't want to have all their content and communications aligned and managed in a consistent manner across organizations, platforms, and geographies? What enterprise wouldn't want to have their customers' journey through offerings and systems be integrated to allow for rapid and appropriate responses to customer inquiries, no matter what language the customer speaks?
After many years of working with enterprise customers in multiple industries, we cannot count how many times we have worked on projects to centralize and consolidate language services inside organizations. Here are three examples that, in our opinion, hinder the dissemination of LangOps.
LangOps is here to stay. But it is not a solution — it is a promise. The growth and survival of the language industry hinges around the fact LSPs manage complexity. They can deal with multiple variables, randomness, nonlinearity, and even irrational behavior. In a world that loves entropy, LangOps can put some order or predictability in language processes for parts of an organization during a certain period of time, while the whole gradually declines into disorder. For the world at large, after a thorough explanation of LangOps, their reaction might just be the classic: "Oh, you are talking about translation!"
In the 2022 edition of the Nimdzi 100 we reported that LSPs from all sides of the market listed talent acquisition and talent retention as two of their biggest challenges in 2022. Summarizing briefly, below are three of the factors we identified as affecting the talent crunch at the start of 2022:
Checking in on the same trend this year it appears the tides have turned. For one, only about one third of respondents to our survey for the Nimdzi 100 report they are currently experiencing challenges related to talent acquisition and retention. In addition, when asked directly during the interview stage of this project, LSPs confirmed that aside from the peaks and valleys in demand surrounding hyper growth spurts, attracting and retaining talent is no longer a top-of-mind concern.
An interesting development in this regard is related to the mass layoffs in the tech industry. Between October 2022 and January 2023, news of layoffs in the thousands to tens of thousands at tech giants, including Amazon (30,000), Microsoft (11,000), Google (12,000), Twitter (3,750), and Meta (11,000) made headlines. Interviews with LSPs who derive a large portion of their revenue from clients in this sector revealed that, as a result of these layoffs, employees who had previously left the company to work for the client side are now looking to return to their previous positions.
While the tech industry might be the most extreme and most visible example,layoffs are increasing in other industries across the labor market as well, even though unemployment rates are still low.
Typically, when layoffs occur on the client side, there is an increase in the demand for contractors. In other words, the need for language services doesn't disappear, and the people who did the work on the client side are now doing the work on the vendor side and therefore the demand for LSPs increases.
One major byproduct of the boom in virtual events caused by the pandemic was that there were more requests for multilingual meetings than ever before and in entirely new formats and compilations. What we have witnessed ever since is both the emergence of the Multilingual Meeting Provider (MMP) and the multi-skilled linguist.
The needs of clients are shifting and buyers are increasingly looking for a provider that can do it all. Clients don’t want to go to one company for their interpreting needs, to another for translation, and again to another for captioning — and potentially all for the same event.
That being said, as the pandemic effect winds down, the novelty of interpreting systems and environments is also waning. Instead, what we are seeing is that the focus is increasingly shifting toward event management. In fact, we predict that over time, the different language services MMPs offer will simply become features on event platforms clients can avail of. While this might be in early stages, first moves have been made. For instance, remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) technology provider KUDO no longer consider themselves an RSI platform, but rather a meeting platform. And for good reason, because what KUDO and others in this space offer is no longer just about interpreting. Today, multilingual meetings can be facilitated in many different ways, including:
As the market for multilingual meetings is evolving it is perhaps not surprising that this field is no longer dominated by interpreting providers alone. Other players have appeared on the scene, including machine translation providers, pure tech players from outside the language services industry, media localization companies, video conferencing giants (Zoom, MS Teams, etc.), and LSPs who traditionally only focused on VRI and OPI services and are now looking to get into the events space by adding RSI. At the same time, RSI providers — the traditional players in this field — are expanding their offering to reach a wider client base by adding features such as MI and machine-generated live subtitling.
It should come as no surprise that this trend has also trickled down to the linguists who are facilitating these meetings. The pandemic pushed many into offering a more diversified service portfolio as they sought to make ends meet. Today, many interpreters are increasingly moving into new terrain such as voiceovers, respeaking, captioning, technology consulting, and event management to stay relevant and offer a better service to their clients.
While in many cases, linguists simply upskill themselves, some LSPs are also actively facilitating the transition into new language services. For instance, media localization provider Iyuno has an open call on its website that allows anyone to record their voice and submit it to be considered for work as a voice actor. A clever move that speeds up the search for potential talent and offers a quicker in-road for those interested in going into this line of work.
As the multilingual meeting provider develops, we can expect that the multi-skilled linguist will be in high demand.
The language services landscape is known to be quickly exposed to technological trends and disruptions. Nonetheless, no matter how big the threat is, the industry always manages to adapt and adopt. In a deteriorating global economy where artificial intelligence (AI) is booming, localization teams are forced once more to transform themselves into flexible and innovative business centers that constantly scan the technology market for cost-efficient solutions driving productivity. In this context, MTQE is a technology trend we identified that is likely to break through in 2023.
MTQE is driven by AI models that are trained on millions of post-edited translation pairs to assess and predict the accuracy of machine-translated content. As evaluating MT quality is never entirely unbiased — not even in the case of human evaluation, MTQE is intended to predict how much post-editing a specific machine translation requires, thus identifying potential risks associated with the translation.
MTQE isn't necessarily new but, accelerated by the dim economic situation, it is about to establish itself in the language technology landscape. Leading providers include Unbabel, TAUS, and ModelFront. The Translation Management System (TMS) space is represented by Phrase and Smartling.
Apart from being cost effective and fast, it is also scalable since the data that is used to train MT models can be reproduced to train MTQE models. That way, it generates an additional layer of intelligence on top of regular machine translation systems. It’s a great opportunity for localization managers with lots of MT-ready content such as ecommerce product owners.
AI has made incredible strides in recent years and became the talk of every industry since the end of 2022 with the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT (see section on ChatGPT further on in the report).
Within the language services industry, the use of AI certainly is nothing new, yet it continues to shape the industry. Thanks to advances in MT and synthetic voice quality — technologies that had previously been considered sub-par and not ready for use — are now stepping out of the shadows, presenting new use cases and opportunities. This is a trend we can expect to accelerate.
This section outlines the latest AI trends in the language services industry that businesses and professionals alike should be aware of.
Live subtitling is a service that has picked up immensely since the spike in video conferencing, and the technology in this space has made tremendous strides.
In essence, the service of live subtitling involves taking spoken content and converting it to written content in multiple languages with minimal delay. Live subtitles are used for online meetings as well as in live broadcasts, at onsite events, and to make radio content accessible online. There currently are three main ways in which live subtitles can be generated:
While the first option is the traditional way, it is also increasingly a rare sight. Even for live broadcasts, a mix of human and machine is becoming the norm in an effort to increase speed and efficiency. Ever since the Zoom boom, the use of purely machine-generated live subtitles has increased both as a result of higher demand and advances in MT technology.
What is interesting to note about this trend is that, similarly to the wider multilingual meetings space, the providers of live subtitling services are coming from different sides of the industry:
In other words, with the advances of AI, we are starting to see crossovers between segments of the industry that used to be quite separate for a long time.
Dubbing is one of the bread and butter services in the media localization industry and, to date, one that is (almost) exclusively performed by voice actors. However, the latest developments in AI dubbing might change the landscape
The advancement of synthetic voice technology has greatly improved. Some synthetic voices now sound incredibly similar to human voices, making it difficult to distinguish them from actual human speech. The latest technological innovations allow for the synthetic voice to mimic the inflection and mannerisms of the original speaker.
Although not fit for entertainment purposes (yet), current use cases for AI dubbing range from international broadcasts to voiceover for documentaries and corporate videos. In addition, during interviews for the Nimdzi 100, several media and game localization providers reported that they are exploring use cases, such as the following:
The developments in synthetic voice applications and AI have drawn attention in the business world. Although the exploration of this technology is ongoing, it is significant that the idea of AI dubbing has transitioned from being rejected to being actively researched and considered by major media localization players.
This is not the first time that we are reporting about MI, but it continues to be a hot topic since AI advances at such an accelerated pace.
But let’s clarify first what exactly we mean when we talk about MI. MI is the transmission of a spoken message in one language into a spoken message in a different language using AI. MI, which can also be called speech-to-speech translation (S2ST), uses automatic speech recognition (ASR), followed by AI transcription, machine translation, and finally a synthetic voice to speak the message in the target language. This so-called cascade model is what all MI solutions on the market to date are built on.
What MI solutions are currently available?
MI technologies can be roughly divided into two categories: those for individuals and those for businesses.
The solutions for individuals come in the form of handheld devices like Cheetah Talk, ili Handheld Translator, and Vasco Translator or as applications for mobile devices such as the solutions by Skype Translator and iTranslate Voice App. Another popular form of MI hardware are earbuds. Timekettles’ WT2 Plus is a good example of this technology, as are the Google Pixel Buds.
For businesses, MI software in the form of applications are most widely used and are gaining in popularity. This type of MI tool is used to interpret meetings, conferences, large-scale events (both online and in-person) or other spoken interactions online, such as online courses. In the conference and events space, Wordly is currently the most specialized and well-known solution on the market, though by far not the only one. For example, other noteworthy solutions come from GTCOM as well as XL8. Watch this space!
Up until recently, most MI solutions targeted individual consumers — such as tourists — especially in Asian markets. They were designed to facilitate simple two-way communication. Increasingly, however, MI is moving into the sphere of multilingual online meetings and conferences, which has traditionally been the realm of human conference interpreters. There are two main reasons for this shift; the first is pandemic-induced and the second is technological. The pandemic ushered in a new era of virtual meetings driving the need for multilingualism online. At the same time, technology in this space made significant leaps, particularly thanks to the advances made in machine-generated live subtitling.
This combination of increased demand and considerable improvements in quality has resulted in more companies investing in speech-to-speech technology and new solutions popping up on the market. It’s a development that is not only true for the interpreting sector but also the media localization field where AI dubbing is coming onto the scene and some solutions can even retain the original actor’s voice in the synthetic version (see section on AI dubbing). It is not unlikely that, when it comes to AI, we will eventually witness a convergence of the media and the interpreting segments.
Another noteworthy development is that RSI providers are starting to come into this space. In January 2023, KUDO was the first RSI platform to release its own MI feature. This development enables the company to do two things:
OpenAI’s latest GPT-3 (stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) variant, called ChatGPT, is all the rage these days. And for good reason — the technology has come a long way and some are calling this a tipping point for AI. For those not in the loop, here is a brief introduction: GPT-3 is trained on public data and applies machine learning to perform a number of on-demand tasks with only minimal input, including:
ChatGPT is the latest variant of GPT-3. In addition to the tasks listed above, ChatGPT can also:
What makes it a potential game changer as opposed to what’s already out there? There are two main things:
Although not without its limitations and by no means a de facto source of truth, ChatGPT has already changed the game because it enables anybody to produce more work at a much faster rate. To what extent the technology can be used (e.g. how much editing and fact-checking is required), and whether it will truly become “the Google killer” that some hype it to be, remains to be seen.
In the language industry, people are talking about ChatGPT and trying to figure out how it will impact them. While it’s too early to make firm statements, it’s not unlikely that large language models (LLM) such as GPT-3 will be embedded in different steps of the translation process. Already, it has proven to be a useful tool to unlock writer’s block in the content creation process or to fast-track scripts for presentations and speeches. While not entirely monolingual, the technology works best in English for now. Additional use cases that have been determined so far include:
Right now, there is a lot of hype, and ChatGPT has already become a game-changer no matter which way you look at it. However, whether this means that the technology will be a true disruptor in the long run in the sense that it will impact our everyday lives as well as our workflows in the language industry is rather doubtful but it remains too early to say.
It is a universal principle that people tend to adopt new fears, such as anxiety about the future or the fear of obsolescence, before they are able to overcome previous fears, which eventually fade into the subconscious.
In the language industry, this phenomenon is manifesting as the introduction of new technologies creating new fears of obsolescence or the demise of the industry. However, as time passes and new technologies emerge, the industry begins to overcome these fears and they eventually become relegated to the subconscious. This cycle repeats as each new technology brings with it new fears, only to be overcome as the industry adjusts, moves forward, and keeps growing.
The Beninatto Theorem and Amara's Law provide a framework for understanding the impact of new technologies like ChatGPT on the language industry. Amara's Law highlights that we often overestimate the short-term effects of a technology while underestimating its long-term impact. By considering both of these principles, we can gain a more comprehensive understanding of how ChatGPT and other AI language models will shape the future of the industry.
We like to say that the language services industry is impervious to crises. There is always a need for language services, which is why our industry tends to outpace the global economy. At the same time, there is no denying the fact that individual businesses will nonetheless have ups and downs.
Recent shocks to the global economy have triggered a mass reshuffling of the labor market, and we are currently experiencing inflation, currency fluctuations, an energy crisis, and mass layoffs in the tech industry.
For this year’s Nimdzi 100, we wanted to know how many LSPs are already feeling the impact of these global events and for how many it is impacting their 2023 strategy.
The results from our survey show that two out of five companies are already feeling the impact of the current economic crisis, and another 30% are preparing for it in their 2023 strategy, despite not feeling the impact yet. Another 30% report not feeling any impact at all.
Overall, experiences are similar from one continent to the next. However it is clear that the effects have been felt more keenly in Europe and Asia than the Americas so far. Almost half of European and Asian companies (44.4% and 47.8%, respectively) have already felt the impact on their businesses, compared to 31% of companies based in North and South America. There is also a difference in the number of companies that predict not being impacted at all: roughly a quarter of companies headquartered in Europe and Asia (27.8% and 26.1%), compared to a more than a third of companies in the Americas (34.5%).
Digging deeper, we asked those who reported having felt the impact already what strategies they have implemented so far. For companies in this bracket, the most popular strategy has been to invest in technology and process change (68.2%). Another 43.2% have also added new services, and approximately a third have raised prices or reduced staff. Just 15.9% have reduced prices as a reaction to the economic changes.
Though of course it is not just LSPs who are impacted — everyone is, and buyers are no exception. So we asked respondents to our survey what the reactions from their clients have been so far.
The majority of companies note that clients have reduced their order volumes (64.2%), and another 22.2% report that clients have reduced the number of languages they are localizing into. In addition, 44.4% state that clients are choosing cheaper, machine-generated solutions instead of human-led services. For 16% of respondents, clients have not made any changes to their business with them yet.
Lastly, we wanted to know what strategies companies in our industry are implementing to combat rising inflation and economic pressure in 2023. The results show that the most-reported course of action for LSPs is increasing the use of machine translation; almost 60% of companies will be using this cost-saving method. Other popular solutions include increasing prices with clients (39.7% of companies) and reducing office space to save costs (32.9%).
In addition to these strategies to increase revenues and cut costs, 53.4% of companies report that they will increase salaries for their employees to help compensate for the higher costs of living in the current economic climate.
Only 17.8% are planning to reduce staff and 23.3% want to ask vendors to reduce their rates.
|3||ASR||Automatic speech recognition|
|4||ASL||American sign language|
|5||CAGR||Compound annual growth rate|
|7||GPT-3||Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3|
|8||IPO||Initial public offering|
|9||LLM||Large language models|
|10||LSP||Language service provider|
|11||M&A||Mergers and acquisitions|
|14||MMP||Multilingual meeting provider|
|16||MTQE||Machine translation quality estimation|
|19||RSI||Remote simultaneous interpreting|
|21||TMS||Translation management system|
|23||VRI||Video remote interpreting|
|24||VRS||Video relay service|
The language services industry is a diverse space by its very nature as its primary purpose is to connect people from a vast number of language and cultural backgrounds. Communication is at the core of all human interactions and where there is a need for communication, there is a need for language services.
Remote interpreting solutions have been both in development and in use for a long time now. However, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, uptake was slow. The onset of the pandemic changed this drastically, and, ever since, it seems that the growth, innovation, and investment in this field has been unstoppable. Once considered an afterthought or sub-par alternative to onsite services, remote interpreting has stepped out of the shadows to become the key to continuity of business and care in many industries.
Introduction The language services industry is undergoing a profound transformation with the emergence of cutting-edge technologies such as ChatGPT and large language models (LLMs). These powerful language generation models have captivated the attention of businesses and language professionals alike, offering exciting possibilities for translation, localization, and content creation. In this article, we will explore the […]
If you follow Nimdzi Insights then you know that we like to create rankings. Why, you ask? The answer’s simple. We — along with our clients and industry peers — like to know who the top players are in any given field or area. We look at the global market for language services as a whole, as well as in-country markets and leaders in specific industry verticals and services.